‘Dallas Is Heading Toward a Reckoning’: Nonprofit Boss Wonders If We Are Doing It All Wrong

After 20 years in the business of helping vulnerable Dallas children succeed, Michelle Kinder will leave the Momentous Institute this month. But before she goes, she has a provocative warning for local charities and deep-pockets:Dallas, she said, “is heading toward a significant reckoning” around inequality. Nonprofits, many of them put in place long ago to assuage the guilt of the wealthy, have likely gone about their work all wrong, Kinder said.Everyone needs to stop doing and just listen. Then listen some more.“Our current model is established to keep us in business,” Kinder told me in an exit interview of sorts this week. “To allow us to do just enough good to feel better ... instead of just chipping away at the structural inequities from the lens of the wisdom of people impacted by it.”Anyone who knows Kinder will affirm that when she challenges our city about its philanthropic efforts, it is not an indictment -- it’s tough love, an invitation to do better.“These are good people,” she said. “My hope is that they are willing and able to grapple with it in the same way I’m grappling with it.”I got to know Momentous’ work and its executive director several years ago while exploring the lack of mental health services in southern Dallas. Momentous helps fill that gap with a curriculum and teacher training focused on students’ social-emotional health.  Continue reading...

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